How To Choose The Best Vitamin Supplements For Your Animals

How To Choose The Best Vitamin Supplements For Your Animals
How To Choose The Best Vitamin Supplements For Your Animals

Animals play a massive role in our lives and we want to prioritize their well-being. Providing the right vitamin supplements along with appropriate and nutrient-dense diets will help keep them healthy. However, you cannot give the same vitamins to every type of animal. For example, daily supplements for dogs are not the same as those for horses because each has different nutritional needs

Since the market has a lot to offer when it comes to choosing the right supplement for your animals, it can be a bit overwhelming. Vitamin supplements’ primary objective is metabolism management, and vitamins for animals vary. There are vitamin supplements for domesticated animals, for example, cats and dogs, and also various supplements for livestock and poultry.  Here are some tips to help you choose the best vitamin supplements for your animals:

Cats And Dogs

Your furry friends all have different nutritional needs. Your first stop in determining whether your pet needs nutritional supplements should be your vet. You can also research what kind of vitamins they need most based on:

  1. Natural Diet

When it comes to the animals that we consider as our companions, you should consider their natural diet. If you look to their ancestors, they survived by means of hunting. Our cats and dogs are generally not surviving by those means anymore. 

Based on their “natural diet,” however, you can look into supplements containing nutrients that are found in what they might eat in the wild, such as: 

  • Vitamin A for good vision and growth
  • Omega-3 fatty acids that aid cognitive functioning
  • Vitamin E for reducing inflammation
  • B Vitamins such as B6, B12, Thiamine, Riboflavin, Pantothenic, and folic acid for metabolic health

2.  Age

Choosing vitamins with regards to your pet’s age group is very important, as your pet’s age will determine what kind of extra vitamins might be helpful for them. For example, when they are young, it’s essential to provide them with the appropriate vitamins and minerals for growth, especially if they are still adjusting from being separated from their mother. 

When they belong to the senior group, they might be less energetic and could experience joint deterioration, gum problems and cognitive decline; hence it’s essential to administer the right vitamin supplements depending on their age.

Livestock

How To Choose The Best Vitamin Supplements For Your Animals

Choosing vitamins according to an animal’s species involves knowing what vitamins they require and in what amounts, as well as what times to give them vitamins to manage any deficiencies properly.  

Horses

Talk to an equine nutritionist and to your hay and feed suppliers so you know what your horse needs and what’s in your hay and concentrates. Like other species, horses might need vitamins according to their age as well. Here are some of the vitamins that horses need to be able to have a healthy lifestyle:

  • Biotin: This promotes a healthy hoof and coat and maintains blood sugar levels.
  • Vitamin A: This helps their reproductive system, improves eyesight, and overall immune system. 
  • B Vitamins: This helps metabolism management and aids healthy digestion.
  • Vitamin C: This neutralizes free radicals, which can make them mom harmful, for horses, and this vitamin also helps horses when they are stressed.  
  • Vitamin D: This helps horses to utilize calcium and phosphorus absorption. 
  • Vitamin E: An antioxidant that assists in fighting free radicals.
  • Vitamin K: This is good for the horse’s overall bone health, helps when there are blood clots and beneficial to bone metabolism.

Lately, CBD oil has been making waves as a supplement for the overall health of horses, and some people claim the positive effects are as beneficial as they are for humans. CBD oil is made from the different parts of the hemp plant, except for the seeds. 

Today, cats, dogs and horses are also given CBD products for their touted anti-inflammatory and pain-halting abilities. Not only that, CBD oil is also given for digestion, mood, and general well-being. You can always look for a CBD guide for horses if you need more information on utilizing CBD products for horses. 

Cattle 

Cattle need an adequate balance of energy, protein, vitamins, and hydration to attain a healthy lifestyle. Ideally, they will have access to high-quality grass and forage, but forage-based diets can lead to vitamin deficiencies.

Pregnant cattle at their latest stages require Vitamin A at 30,000 to 45,000 IU per day to reduce the chances of enteritis. Lactating mothers need 1,769 IU per pound of feed, while pregnant cows need 1,269 IU. They also get Vitamin D from sun-exposed feed and by grazing in open-range fields. Vitamin D as an antioxidant provides immunity, and Vitamin E lessens the chances of the calf developing a muscular disease. 

When cattle do not get the right vitamins, they can be more prone to scours or diarrhea, which may cause death to younger calves. They can also develop white muscle disease due to selenium deficiencies. Here are some vitamins and minerals that can help them with their diet:

  • Phosphorus and Calcium: This helps lactating cows to increase their milk production and also improves their bone structures.
  • Magnesium: This is recommended at least during the first three months of lactation and at least 30 days before calving. This also helps their muscle function, nervous system, immune system, and overall bone health.
  • Potassium: A large amount of potassium is lost during milk production; having potassium supplements will help them with the required daily maintenance. This may also reverse milk fat depression and its effects. 
  • Iodine: This is important for the thyroid hormones that oversee energy metabolism. A sign of iodine deficiency is when newborn calves have a goiter. 
  • Iron: Required in hemoglobin production to fight against deficiency like anemia, depressed immunity, and loss of weight.

Sheep

Vitamins that can be beneficial to a sheep are A, D, E, and B vitamins. Though deficiencies rarely happen, they must get enough to sustain a healthy immune system. They can produce good wool when adequately fed and adequately supported by the needed vitamins.

The nutrients needed vary depending on their age, size, and psychological aspects. Sheep can usually get vitamin A and E from plants, hay, and grains while they get vitamin D in fresh dry feed and sunlight. 

Older and larger sheep need more nutrients compared to the smaller and younger ones. Newborns get B vitamins from milk, which usually provides for their nutritional needs. Sheep might be supplemented with:

  • Vitamin E for colostrum production, improved wool production, and ample weight for lambs
  • Vitamin D for bone formation and metabolism of Calcium and Phosphorus but not in large amounts
  • Vitamin A for fertility and conception
  • Biotin, niacin, B6, and B12 for carbohydrate transformation and hoof formation (biotin)

Poultry

Poultry requires all known vitamins except for vitamin C. They can be supplemented with fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamins A, D, E, K to help with decreased egg production, lack of growth, thin shells and to help prevent blood clots and diseases such as encephalomalacia (also known as crazy chick disease).

Water-soluble vitamins might also be beneficial to poultry. Thiamine and riboflavin might help with loss of appetite and decreased egg production; vitamin B12 helps to combat anemia and embryonic mortality. Pantothenic Acid and biotin can help manage dermatitis around the eyes and beak, and also when there are lesions on mouth and feet. Inflamed mouth and tongue might be remedied with niacin. Lastly, choline can be beneficial if they have fatty liver.

Always remember that vitamin deficiencies can lead to severe illnesses and sometimes death. Make sure your feed is giving your poultry the nutrients they need, and supplement when required.

Reminders When Choosing Vitamin Supplements

Animals are the same as humans when it comes to vitamin supplements: vitamins will only be helpful if there’s a vitamin deficiency. If there isn’t a deficiency, then supplementing at best wastes your money and at worst puts your animal at risk of overdose. 

If you’re feeding high quality, age-appropriate food, there’s a good chance your animal won’t need extra vitamins at all. The best way to know that for sure is to talk to your vet and someone who specializes in animal nutrition. Here are some other quick reminders before wrapping this up:

  1. Be Careful When Giving Supplements To Animals

The formulation and contents of supplements for humans may not be enough for animals or, in some cases, might be deadly for them. Multivitamins might benefit humans, but that doesn’t mean they will benefit animals. Choose only the vitamins that are appropriate for your animals and use only the vitamin that has distinct ingredients for a particular deficiency. 

  1. Be Wary Of What You Read And See

Vitamin supplements are for treating deficiencies. They are not cures for the diseases caused by deficiencies. Some companies will advertise and make false claims to sell products. Steer clear away of brands without proper information on their products. Manufacturers should include ingredients and nutritional facts on their packages. 

Look for certifications. Lot numbers prove that the supplement undergoes quality control checking. Also, you can do a background check on the manufacturer, as they usually have contact information on their packaging. This way, you can check if they are credible and approved by any regulatory bodies.

In Conclusion

Animals have specific dietary needs. While both humans and animals experience deficiencies, vitamin supplements may differ in doses and purposes. Animals also receive supplements for optimum health, depending on their life stages. This is why choosing the best vitamins for them is not just picking something off the shelves. You must also know when a vitamin is necessary, when to give it, and how their bodies are likely to react to it.  

Feature image: Anna Kaminova; Image 1: Anna Kaminova

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